Mason baseball wraps up weekend series with 7-4 win over Fairfield

Jake Kalish delivers a pitch to a Fairfield batter in Sunday's 7-4 victory (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).
Jake Kalish delivers a pitch to a Fairfield batter in Sunday's 7-4 victory (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).

The theme for Sunday’s game between George Mason and Fairfield seemed to be “anything you can do, I can do better” as both teams battled in the series finale at Spuhler Field.

When Fairfield would score in the top half of the inning, Mason would respond. Fairfield would set down the side in order, and Mason would do the same. In the end, Mason came out on top to beat Fairfield 7-4 in what was a back and forth matchup all day long.

The Patriots were led by pitcher Jake Kalish, who threw six strong innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. Kalish also tallied six strike outs on his way to his first win of the season.

“Momentum is a big part of the game,” said Kalish, who retired 12 of his final 13 batters faced, including 10 in a row beginning in the third inning. “They were teeing on my fastball early, so I started mixing it up and it all worked out.”

The Stags (3-3) scored four runs between the second and third innings, thanks to an RBI triple by second baseman Rob LoPinto. LoPinto would end up scoring on the same play thanks to an ill-advised throw from Mason second basemen Derek Evans.

However, the performance of the day for Mason (6-4) came from true freshman Mark Maksimow, who relieved Kalish in the seventh and shut down Fairfield in the seventh and eighth.

“Mark was fabulous,” said Mason coach Bill Brown. “You really need someone to come in and really get you some shut down outs, and that’s exactly what he did.”

After throwing a five pitch seventh inning, Maksimow found himself in a bit of a struggle in the eighth. With two runners on and nobody out, the young reliever worked himself out of a jam, striking out a batter and forcing an inning ending double play.

“I just went out there knowing I had to make quality pitches,” Maksimow said. “I was trying to get that first batter to roll over on something and hopefully get a double play. It just happened he struck out, and the next guy did exactly what I was originally hoping for.”

Maksimow leads the Patriots bullpen in appearances, pitching in five of Mason’s 10 games this season. The freshman has really stepped in and accepted his role as a solid set-up man, with opponents hitting a dismal .207 against him thus far.

“Coming into the season I really wasn’t expecting to be throwing this many innings this early in the season,” Maksimow said. “All I’ve been concentrated on doing is throwing up scoreless innings and passing the ball onto the next guy.”

Maksimow set up sophomore Taylor Hunt for his first save of the year, after Hunt was able to retire the side in order in the top of the ninth.

“It was a good day for our bullpen,” said Brown, who has seen early success from his pitchers all season.

The Patriots travel to VCU on Tuesday to take on their formal Colonial Athletic Association rival at 3 p.m. Mason returns home to host Navy Wednesday at 3 p.m.

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